Retro Spin: “The Politics of Dancing” by Re-Flex


“The Politics of Dancing” by Re-Flex demonstrates exactly how inventive pop music could be in the early 1980s. Released in late 1983, “The Politics of Dancing” is smart and rhythmic. The song creates the premise that ” the politicians are now deejays.”

Context for “Politics of Dancing” by The Re-Flex

The song was released in an era when songs about Russia or politics were popular. Sting’s “Russians” and Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s “Two Tribes” are just two examples of songs that were more political than mere pop.

The Re-Flex’s “The Politics of Dancing” doesn’t mention specific country, but the British band does put forth a rather effective critique of politicians in general. In this way, listeners can decide for themselves what their particular leaders need to do. In addition, the song’s lyrics indicate that politicians have too much control.

Soundscape of “The Politics of Dancing” by The Re-Flex

The song itself is an energetic crush of keyboards and drums. The vocals are flexible and the shifts in tone or quality for certain notes helps to give the song its dynamics.

Because of the song’s qualities, it is easy for listeners to get caught up in the danceable beat and that phrase in the chorus that states “ooh, feeling good.”

But the song does not seem to be meant to be lighthearted. “It’s in the papers…on the t.v. news…” singer John Baxter informs listeners to detail the widespread nature of the news. His voice shoots up on the word “papers” as if he is incredulous or exasperated. The tone lends more credence to the idea that the sing is anti-political control overall.

The keyboards’ mix with the drums keeps the track from being brooding. As it is, “The Politics of Dancing” sounds upbeat, but closer listening reveals a deeper meaning. Exactly what that is rather open for interpretation, but distrust and critique of politicians is obvious. The nationalities of those politicians is not as clear as some other songs of the period, “The Politics of Dancing” is itself an effective dance song. The keyboards and rhythms are indicative of the era in which it was created. Nonetheless, the song is original and remains classic, even if a bit underground.


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Dodie Miller-Gould is a native of Fort Wayne, Indiana who lives in New York City where she studies creative nonfiction at Columbia University. She has BA and MA degrees in English from Indiana University-Purdue University, Fort Wayne, and an MFA in Fiction from Minnesota State University, Mankato. Her research interests include popular music and culture, 1920s jazz, and blues, confessional poetry, and the rhetoric of fiction. She has presented at numerous conferences in rhetoric and composition, and creative writing. Her creative works have appeared in Tenth Muse, Apostrophe, The Flying Island, Scavenger's Newsletter and elsewhere. She has won university-based awards for creative work and literary criticism.

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